Disclaimer: The Transformers and all related material belong to Hasbro, concept originally created and licensed through Takara Co. LTD.

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Twenty-Eight Ratchets - "Playing with Kids Ratchet"

How had he let them talk him into this? This was ridiculous, embarrassing and a waste of time. Things like this were for the Twins, Tracks, Jazz, Blaster, Bumblebee... Scrap, HALF the other 'Bots at the Ark, but no. OH no. They'd told him he needed to come along and deal with this situation.

Slagging rascals and retrorats, all of 'em.

"C'mon, Ratch. Warm up a little, huh? You're gonna put the crowd off!" Jazz encouraged, elbowing the medic, who stubbornly refused to get involved with all the insanity around them.

"This isn't my shtick and you KNOW it," he growled back. "How did I let you talk me into this? A convention, Jazz? Really... I have work back at the Ark to take care of."

Jazz grinned. "So let First Aid and Hoist handle it, already. Wheeljack had no problems comin'. Even Ironhide ended up gettin' into this. And it's like I told ya when we got approached for this thing, it's free publicity. Good PR for us. Ya know as well as I do that it started with sighting photos back in 1984, then news broadcasts and ended up turning into news websites and even fan sites when the internet finally got big. Some dude decided it'd be cool to collect the fan sites into web rings, fan art started showin' up and before ya knew it, some company decided it was time to put out an action figure line. Just prototypes for now, but ya never know how things'll go."

"If that's your roundabout way'a telling me I got fans--"

"I ain't gotta say a thing. Check that action out, right there."

From where the group of Autobots stood in the blocked off section of convention center parking lot, Jazz pointed out a gaggle of college age girls giggling and pointing at the pair of them. Nearby, many of the other 'Bots were already engaged in conversations with convention attendees, signing autographs and posing for photos.

Ratchet blinked his optic shutters, faceplates flushing. "They're pointing at YOU, Jazz."

"No they ain't. That one right there's got a red cross drawn on her white t-shirt. And that one there's got--"

"A...plushie," Ratchet interrupted, hanging his head in defeat. "Primus, you have GOT to be kidding me. What did I do to deserve this?"

"Dunno, but I'm gonna have to leave you to figure that one out on your own," Jazz replied before heading off. "I promised a couple'a guys I'd show 'em my first class sound system!"

Left to his own devices, Ratchet wasn't sure whether to just give in and put up with the convention attendees for the next six hours or just excuse himself with a small white lie, such as Hoist calling him back to the Ark for help with a project. Before he could make up his mind, however, the college girls managed to get closer and one of them held out a notepad for the medic to autograph. From all the stuttering, he managed to gather that she was a medical student, combination science fiction fan. Well, fragging great. Sitting down, Ratchet extended a precision tool from his right wrist and used it to grip the offered sharpie marker, as his one fingers were too large to handle the pen. His consent to defeat, however, caused a new outburst of giggling from the other girls, who then all wanted autographs as well. Similar situations repeated themselves for the next few hours, the CMO slowly loosening up bit by bit to the point where he found he didn't mind the attention too much, anymore.

Towards the end of the day, convention security began to move in to clear the parking lot, shooing away the last of the attendees so the Autobots could finally clear out. While Tracks talked security into allowing him two more minutes to pose with a couple of fans, however, a mother and her daughter managed to get in through the gates despite warnings that the lot was closing.

"Hey, Ratch," Ironhide said as he noticed the approaching pair. "I think they're here ta see you."

Before the medic could question how the old mech knew, the little girl rushed up to him and hugged his leg. Startled into silence, Ratchet could only watch as her mother finally caught up, nearly out of breath.

"I'm so sorry," she managed, one hand on her chest. "We were late getting here because of a bad accident on the highway and even after attempting a detour we got lost. Wendy was just so determined to meet you. Her father was a doctor and he, well..."

"It's fine," Ratchet replied, hazarding a guess that since the father wasn't there that he either wasn't able to be there...or was no longer around to come along, given his wife had referred to him in past tense. "Did you... I mean, did she...?"

"Maria hurt her arm yesterday," the little girl supplied, holding up the doll. "You're my favorite Autobot and I see you on the news almost all the time and if anyone can make her better, you can. Right? Mommy said you can make anyone better!"

Nearby, Ironhide forced the others to clear out in a hurry. Jazz was grinning like an idiot, but the old veteran wasn't about to let a crowd put the boxy red and white on the spot.

"Well, I...ah," Ratchet began as he knelt down. Looking at the child's hopeful expression he frowned a little, then held out one hand. "Alright, let's see."

As the girl laid the doll in his open palm, he saw that her arm had nearby been torn completely out at the shoulder. Somehow, the stitching had come undone.

"Maria is her favorite," the mother explained with a half-smile. "I've patched her up before, but Wendy was so insistent about this. I hope it's not too much trouble. I know you're used to working on other robots and not things like this."

Ratchet shuttered his optics briefly. "An injury is an injury. I'll take care of it."

Fortunately, since coming to Earth, Ratchet had added supplies to his onboard tools and compartments to deal with organic wounds as well as Cybertronian injuries. One never knew when Spike or Sparkplug might need emergency treatment. Wrist tools snaking out once again, Ratchet chose the extensions that supported tools for surgical stitches. Actions quick and precise, he made short work of the tear, reattaching the doll's arm to her shoulder and tacking the fabric of her dress down over the patch job. Then, to make the job look authentic, he brought out a bit of gauze and wrapped it about Maria's upper arm.

"Plenty of rest for the patient, alright?" Ratchet said to Wendy, who squealed with joy and took her doll back, hugging it to her chest.

"Thank you! Thank you so much, Doctor Ratchet!" Wendy exclaimed before leaning in to kiss the back of the mech's index finger. "You're the bestest doctor ever!"

Ratchet's faceplate flushed bright red. ...oh, it was going to be weeks before he lived this one down. But, as he looked into the grateful face of the little girl before him, he knew deep down that her smile was worth every minute of teasing he'd get in the days to come.